CNN"Anderson Cooper 360" - Transcript - Syria and Gay Marriage


COOPER: Senator Portman mentioned former vice president Cheney there are, in fact, a number of leading Republicans and conservatives who support marriage equality. Former solicitor general Ted Olson, roughly Republican, will be arguing against California's proposition eight, which banks same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.

I want to dig deep now with the GOP's reactions that Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain.


COOPER: Senator, I want to ask you about your colleague, senator Portman's, announcement. He is now, the only Republican senator supporting same-sex marriage. Can you ever see yourself considering a similar short of shift?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I don't think so because of my religious beliefs but I respect anyone else's decision and we all learn in life and grow and mature. I have changed my position on other issues in my life, but on this one, I had not contemplated changing my position.

COOPER: Senator Portman says it is in line with his beliefs, with his catholic beliefs. He obviously has changed his position because his son said that he was gay, told his father that. I know your wife, your daughter, Megan, support same-sex marriage, and publicly made statements about it. Do you think if a member of your family was gay and told you that. That might influence you?

MCCAIN: I don't think so. But, I would like to point out that my daughter's opinions I respect. We have discussions about the issue. And she makes strong arguments and I think we ought to continue this dialogue throughout the country. And by the way, I have admired your forward position and stand on this issue.

COOPER: Well, thanks. I -- let's talk about Syria. I want to play for you -- our viewers something that you said yesterday about it.

MCCAIN: More than 1 million refugees have fled their country at a rate of 8,000 people each day as of last month and 2.5 million people have been displaced within their country. Only the Genocide of Rwanda and the first Iraq war have driven more people to refugee status over a similar period of time.

COOPER: Those are some of the deadliest conflicts in recent history. Do you think Syria has reached that same now?

MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I had a meeting with the Saudi ambassador today -- ambassador to the United States today and he mentioned to me that not only have we got the 70,000 massacred, but we also have 100,000 that are quote "missing." You know what that means in Syria when 100,000 are missing. So, the numbers are even worse than we had anticipated. And of course, every week or workers is see larger and larger numbers of refugees entering these camps, which are badly overstressed, terribly overstressed and the human suffering continues.

I think it's just terrible. And here we are on the second anniversary, yesterday I believe it was, of these young people, writing something on the walls about freedom and that's torched this whole thing off and it's just tragic that we haven't done more to help.

COOPER: You compared President Obama's leadership to President Clinton's leadership during the war in Bosnia, an unfavorable comparison you were making. It did take President Clinton a long time to get involved in the war in Bosnia to try to stop the Genocide. Is this the war in Syria really one that could have been prevented with presidential leadership by the U.N.?

MCCAIN: Yes. And I believe Bosnia could have been prevented with earlier leadership, but President Clinton did come around. And President Clinton then after that we went to Kosovo as well, where ethnic cleansing was taking place. His regret was we didn't go to Rwanda. I wish we could go every place in the world but there are places you can't go because there's not a ready solution to it. As much as I want to help out in the Congo, for example.

But in Syria, it is very clear that genocide and massacres and gang rapes and torture, Saudi ambassador told me a story, and maybe I shouldn't repeat it. But he said there was this story, the men as the Assad's people are coming in to his home shot and killed his three daughters because he knew what was going to happen to them. You know, that's horrific thing to think of.

And so, this is going on all over, all the time in Syria and we sit by and watch it happen. Now, I'm pleased that secretary Kerry seems to be making moves in the right direction. But some of the staff, they are so, I mean, we are going to give them a couple hundred thousand MREs, meals ready to eat. You know what he we found out? The expiration of those meals, ready to eat, is June. Now, I'm not making that up.

So, all I can is that we could - we could chip the balance here. And I think that Assad is losing and I think he will lose. But I also worry about the increased involvement of Russia and Iranians who really -- Iranians do not want to see Assad fall. General Mattis, the central command commander said if Syria went, it would be the greatest blow to Iran in 25 years. So, there's also a national security component to this as well.

COOPER: Blow to Iran and also to Hezbollah as well.

Senator McCain, it is always good to have you. Thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you.